A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes.
Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.
The criteria for a safe room are provided in FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms
Basic safe room information and construction drawings for site-built safe rooms are provided in FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business
FEMA’s safe room guidance also references criteria in ICC 500, Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.
Safe Room Resources
FEMA provides hazard mitigation funding to eligible states, tribes, and territories that, in turn, provide the funding to local governments to assist in reducing overall risk to people and property.
Read hazard mitigation best practices for examples of mitigation in action.
Endorsement Or Approval Of Specific Manufacturers Or Producers
Although FEMA P-320 and P-361 present FEMA’s guidance on the design and construction of safe rooms, FEMA does not verify or certify design calculations or products. The licensed design professional who signs the certification attests that the design or product will meet the requirements specified on the certification. All products must be properly installed for their intended use(s) only. The prescriptive plans for safe rooms provided in FEMA P-320 are not intended to be a substitute for a licensed design professional. Due to the intended function of safe rooms and site-specific conditions that need to be addressed, it is FEMA’s recommendation that a licensed design professional be involved.
FEMA does not endorse, approve, certify or recommend any contractors, individuals, firms or products. Contractors, individuals, or firms shall not claim they or their products are "FEMA approved" or "FEMA certified."
Obtaining proper building permits and inspections is important for all construction. Individuals considering purchasing or installing a safe room should contact their local building official about building code requirements but should bear in mind that the extreme loads generated by tornadoes are not covered under model building code requirements. The guidance contained in FEMA P-320, FEMA P-361 or ICC 500 can all be used to address these extreme loads.